New Canadian Media

High Time to Boost Canada’s Immigration Plan

Written by  New Canadian Media Sunday, 12 April 2015 12:19
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Canada will need immigration levels of around 350,000 annually by 2035 to sustain our current standard of living and maintain a healthy economy, according to the Conference Board of Canada.
Canada will need immigration levels of around 350,000 annually by 2035 to sustain our current standard of living and maintain a healthy economy, according to the Conference Board of Canada. Photo Credit: Michael Swan via Flickr Creative Commons

by Kareem El-Assal (@immigrationCBoC) in Ottawa

Immigration has always played a crucial role in Canada’s social vitality and economic prosperity. Since Confederation, Canada has welcomed immigrants into communities throughout the country, and in return, immigrants have helped foster growth and build the nation.

However, as Canadians, we know that improvements can be made to our immigration system.

Immigration can be, understandably, an emotive topic. Social issues figure prominently in the immigration discourse of the day.

With a rapidly aging population and one of the world’s lowest fertility rates, immigration plays a leading role in Canada’s population growth.

The suggested abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program by some employers has not supported the notion that immigrants are here to supplement, and not supplant, Canadian workers.

With a rapidly aging population and one of the world’s lowest fertility rates, immigration plays a leading role in Canada’s population growth, accounting for about 65 per cent of annual net growth. By 2035, immigration is set to account for nearly all of it.

According to The Conference Board of Canada’s long-term economic outlook, Canada will need immigration levels of around 350,000 annually by 2035 to sustain our current standard of living and maintain a healthy economy.

As Canada continues to rely upon immigrants, we as a nation, must take a step back, become more introspective, and determine how to improve our immigration system.

Tailored Approach

Due to our rigorous entry requirements for economic-class immigrants, Canada admits some of the best and brightest immigrants the world has to offer.

According to the 2011 National Household Survey, 34 per cent of immigrants hold university degrees compared to 24 per cent of the Canadian-born population.

Conference Board research has shown that immigrants tend to be entrepreneurial, motivated, experienced and enhance business and trade ties between Canada and international markets.

At a time when xenophobia is rising in some quarters of the globe, multiculturalism remains one of Canada’s eminent institutions.

In comparison to peer nations, Canada maintains a relatively generous immigration system, as each year, about 10 per cent of newcomers are granted permanent residence status on humanitarian grounds.

In the absence of formal jurisdiction over immigration matters, municipalities and communities nationwide are seeking greater roles in attracting and integrating immigrants.

On the other hand, research shows that on average, immigrants today do not make up the wage-gap with their Canadian-born counterparts. This is due to a combination of factors including challenges in our settlement services, credential recognition issues, language limitations, and, in some cases, discrimination.

Many employers and governments across Canada argue for a tailored approach to immigration that meets workforce and regional needs.

In the absence of formal jurisdiction over immigration matters, municipalities and communities nationwide are seeking greater roles in attracting and integrating immigrants.

Identifying the best ways to attract immigrants who are able to integrate into the workforce and meet our labour market needs is another issue currently debated.

While the new Express Entry system aims to address this matter, concerns are being voiced that it may unintentionally exclude some outstanding immigration candidates, such as international students, entrepreneurs, and other skilled workers already here on temporary visas.

Improvement a Must

On the world scene, other countries with demographic challenges similar to Canada’s are re-evaluating their existing policies to better attract skilled immigrants.

Canada is already in competition for top-tier international talent with countries such as Australia, Germany, Japan, Sweden and the U.S., and this will only increase in the near future.

Indeed, in the absence of high immigration levels, Canada’s population will shrink, our economy will suffer and our standard of living will decline.

Immigration will continue to be crucial to Canada’s prosperity. Without immigrants, Canada faces labour shortages, a smaller tax base and increased strain on our medical system and pension funds.

Indeed, in the absence of high immigration levels, Canada’s population will shrink, our economy will suffer and our standard of living will decline.

In 1967, when Canada introduced the world’s first immigration points system, we were world leaders. However, times have changed.

Faced with pressing demographic challenges and globalization, Canada should consider improvements.

A multi-faceted approach to change that incorporates all three levels of government, employers, communities, immigrants and other stakeholders, is needed to modernize our national immigration program and blaze a new trail.

The Conference Board of Canada’s new National Immigration Centre, a five-year research-intensive initiative, has been launched to develop a National Immigration Action Plan based on evidence and non-partisan analysis.

From April 13 to 15, the Conference Board will host a major, three-day Canadian Immigration Summit in Ottawa to explore the future of Canada’s immigration system.


Kareem El-Assal is a Research Associate for The Conference Board of Canada. He plays a key role in the Conference Boards National Immigration Centre. 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

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Featured Quote

The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

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